Nearly half of all women and up to 80 percent of all men experience significant hair loss during their lifetimes. While most cases of hair loss are associated with the scalp, many of the same conditions that cause baldness can impact facial hair as well. This includes eyebrows and beards.
In addition to thinning beards or areas of hair loss in beards, individuals may experience that their beard or other facial hair is not as thick or dense as they desire.
Many people have turned to beard transplants as a remedy. Hair transplants, in general, have grown in popularity in recent years given their high success rate and longevity of results.
Some of the barriers that keep individuals from pursuing beards transplants include uncertainty of the associated cost and what to expect from the procedure.
This article explains what those are, and offers some other planning tips. Keep reading to find out all about beard transplant options, so you can determine if it is the right option for you.
How Beard Transplants Work
Most often, beard restoration surgery is performed as an outpatient procedure under local anesthesia. This is generally a relatively safe and well-tolerated procedure.
The procedure takes between a few hours and a full day (depending on the type of procedure and how much hair is being transferred). The recovery process if relatively fast compared to other cosmetic procedures.
There are two distinct beard surgery methods. Both transfer hair follicles from on area of the scalp or body with good hair density. Usually the hairs are taken from the back or sides of the scalp in an area with hair characteristics that best match the facial hair.
The first method, known as follicular unit excision/extraction (FUE) removes individual follicular units (grafts) from the donor area. The grafts are then moved, one by one, into small incisions that have been made in the beard area in areas where increased density is desired. The hair follicles then heal and will start to grow in the desired area.
The second method, follicular unit strip excision (FUSE) often also called follicular unit transplant (FUT), has been around much longer and remains a very effective and popular option. It involves removing a long, thin, strip of hair follicles from your scalp. The area is then sutured together to leave a linear scar. The strip is then dissected under the microscope into individual grafts. Then, similar to the FUE procedure, the grafts are placed one by one into the areas of the beard where increased hair density is desired.
Which Method Is Best?
Both FUE and FUT have their pros and cons. Their advantages (and disadvantages) are important for each individaul to understand so they can determine which option fits them the best.
One of the advantages of FUE is that it leaves pinpoint scars rather than a linear scar. In those who wear their hair very short such as a fade this may be preferred. FUE is also less invasive with a faster recovery, so this is another reason many individuals choose FUE.
The disadvantages of FUE include that it takes hair from a larger area, so if someone has progression of their hair loss, it is more likely that the transplanted hair may become thinner or be lost long term. Another disadvantage of FUE is often a larger portion of the scalp hair needs to be shaved down.
Advantages of FUSE/FUT is that the hair is taken from a smaller area, and thus if there is some thinning over the donor, the hair can be taken from areas with the thickest strongest hair. Another advantage is that a smaller portion of the donor area needs to be shaved, so often those with long hair prefer the FUSE method.
Disadvantages of FUSE include that the recovery is often slightly longer than with FUE and that a linear scar is left behind.
Why Choose Beard Surgery?
One of the biggest reasons to choose beard surgery is its effectiveness. There are non-surgical options that you can discuss with your doctor. However, hair restoration surgery can provide better improvements in hair density especially if there is little to no existing hair in the area.
It is always important to discuss all of the risks, benefits, and alternatives with your doctor.
What Is the Timeline for Beard Restoration?
There are several steps to beard surgery. Here is an outline of the typical process to consider.
Beard restoration typically begins with a consultation. It is important to first see a doctor specializing in hair to allow them to do a thorough assessment of your skin and hair and discuss any underlying conditions.
This can include everything from genetics to internal conditions that can cause hair loss or shedding. All this information is an important part of determining the appropriate treatment.
They also will look closely at both the areas where you wish to grow more hair as well as prospective donor areas. The goal is to find the healthiest follicles available from an area where removal will be the least noticeable and disruptive.
This will also help determine whether the FUE or FUSE method is most appropriate in your case. Your doctor should discuss with you in detail the benefits and risks associated with each option, as well as alternative treatments. It is also important to discuss any questions you may have regarding your condition and/or treatment options. It is often helpful to make a list of your questions prior to going to a consultation.
If you decide that beard surgery is right for you, then you will move forward with scheduling and with pre-operation preparation. It is important to follow any instructions that you receive including in the weeks or days leading up to your procedure. This may include avoiding certain medications, supplements, alcohol, caffeine, activities, and products in the days/weeks leading up to your procedure.
The surgery will proceed with one of the methods described above. Again, most procedures take a half day to full day, and you typically should be able to return home the same day.
Recovery and Follow-up
Beard transplant recovery is usually minimal compared to other cosmetic procedures. However, it is important to follow any post-operative instructions from your surgeon.
This may include avoiding certain medications, supplements, alcohol, caffeine, activities/exercises, swimming, etc in the days to weeks after your procedure. They also will discuss methods for keeping the transplant areas clean. This is all very important for avoiding infection and optimizing healing and growth. They may also recommend other measures such as photoprotection like wearing a hat and sun block in the months after the procedure.
The transplanted follicles will often take up to six months to become visible (though it could be much sooner), and more hair often continues to come in up to 12-15 months after the procedure. For this reason, you should anticipate several follow-up visits with your physician.
How Much Does a Beard Transplant Cost?
How much does a beard transplant cost? Procedures can span from a few thousand dollars to $15,000 or more.
That is a very wide range, which is impacted by many different factors, including the number of grafts required, surgical method that is selected, location of the clinic, and the experience of the surgeon.
One of the biggest things that will impact the cost is the number of grafts that must be transplanted. A patchy beard that needs only minimal hair transplanted will have a lower associated cost compared to a full beard restoration which will be more expensive.
What About Insurance?
Most insurance plans do not cover purely cosmetic procedures. Beard restoration usually falls into this category. However, there are some special circumstances where insurance may come into play.
Insurance often does cover facial reconstruction and scar revision. If beard transplantation is being undertaken to help restore hair from damaged skin, such as from after a burn or trauma, then insurance may cover the procedure. Another example where insurance may cover the procedure is if it is part of gender affirming care. This will depend on your insurance company. Many hair transplant centers are not credentialed with insurance as they primarily do cosmetic work, but they will often work with you to get you the information that you need to submit the cost to your insurance company for coverage if one of the above situations applies.
Are There Other Payment Options?
Yes, there are other options to paying out of pocket for beard surgery. Many offices that specialize in hair restoration have financing options to help you pay over time. These might even include zero percent interest for a designated period.
These, of course, vary among clinics and depend on your credit history. The important thing is to discuss your budget and payment plans with your team. This will help you make the best decision based on the options available to you.
Find a Beard Transplant Surgeon Near You
Now that you understand how to plan and potentially budget for a beard transplant, you can meet with a physician to determine if it is the right course of action for you. An experienced hair restoration surgeon can further discuss the option of beard transplant with you.
At the Root Hair Institute, we offer comprehensive hair restoration services in the Greater Seattle area, including beard transplants. Our team will leverage its extensive training and experience, so that we can offer you a comprehensive approach tailored to your unique needs and goals. If you are interested in scheduling a consultation, reach out to us today.